Tunnel Homes Found During Fire Near Steel Bridge

PORTLAND, Ore. — Firefighters were in for a surprise near the Steel Bridge.

One person is hospitalized with serious burns, and a ramp to the bridge is shut down, after firefighters made an unexpected discovery. 

Firefighters used tools resembling sledgehammers, to break through a cinderblock wall, as smoke was leaking through at Everett and Naito. 

Inside, they found a large tunnel system, where people have created places to live.  Rick Graves is with Portland Fire and Rescue.  “It’s tricky,” he said.  “It’s things we’re not used to.”  

 They found one person, badly burned, and suffering from smoke inhalation.  In the tunnel spaces, they found trash and needles.  “They knocked the fire down.   There’s quite a lot of camp detritus, and it’s fairly riddled with trash and whatnot, so they are just going slow and methodical for their safety to make sure things are going to be OK,” said Graves.

The Oregon Department of Transportation decided to close the Everett Street onramp to the bridge until further notice, as engineers check the structural integrity of the bridge and the road.  

Crews knocked three holes in the wall to get to the fire and put it out.

More about: